That legislation has now emerged, in the form of the Communications Regulation (Premium Rate Services) Bill 2009. According to the explanatory memorandum, the purpose of the Bill is to provide for:
• the transfer of the function of regulating premium rate services to the Commission for Communications Regulation, hereinafter called the Commission.Key elements here are the introduction of a licence to provide premium rate services and the creation of a range of criminal offences including acting without a licence and overcharging / charging for services which were not requested.
• the licensing of premium rate services by the Commission.
• offences, penalties and rights of appeal in relation to the regulation of premium rate services.
• the funding of expenses incurred by the Commission in exercise of its regulatory functions.
• the transfer of staff and responsibility for certain legal proceedings, respectively, from Regtel to the Commission.
• compliance by the Commission with the same obligations in relation to Ministerial directions, reporting and accountability responsibilities in respect of premium rate services as it has in respect of electronic communications and postal services.
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(I'm a bit late blogging this story - I lost sight of this Bill in the flurry of legislative activity during the run up to the summer vacation, particularly the rushing through of the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009 and the introduction of the Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2009. More on these anon.)